NECLIME related projects



Early Pleistocene Environmental Changes in Southern Caucasus - Reconstruction of Climate and Vegetation Development in Armenia and Georgia at the Time of Early Human Expansion into Eurasia (Bruch, Gabrielyan and Kvavadze) 

The Environment of Early Man in Armenia - Climate and Vegetation Reconstruction of the Early Pleistocene (Gabrielyan and Bruch)

This project aims to reconstruct the Early Pleistocene environment in Armenia in order to understand the prerequisites for the first appearance of Humans in this area. This will help to localise possible archaeological sites in the future and to reconstruct the habitat of Early Man. Moreover, the results will also be put into a global perspective.
All over the territory of Armenia Pleistocene lake sediments (diatomites) occur that give evidence of a fast changing setting of lake environments since at least 2 million years. These habitats are known now by archaeologists to be favoured in Armenia by early humans at least since Middle Pleistocene. Additionally, these sequences are perfectly suitable for palaeoenvironmental studies as they are yielding various fossil remains, which can give valuable information about the flora and fauna of the period, and about climate, vegetation and lake history.
The main goals of the project are to reconstruct in detail the early Pleistocene vegetation and climate history in Armenia based on various fossil plant remains (leaves, fruits and seeds, pollen, phytoliths). Moreover, other fossil groups (diatoms, molluscs, fishes, insects) will help to identify the entire environment in and around the lake(s) in order to draw a complete picture of how suitable the landscape was for human occupation at that time.
Quantitative climate data derived from fossil floras will serve for the understanding of the regional climate development in high-resolution, and also for a correlation of the Armenian climate and vegetation history with the global record. Studies on the vegetation development, the history of landscape openness and its dependence on climate parameters will shed light on the development of grasslands in Armenia during late Neogene, which seems to be an important factor in human evolution and dispersal. However, the expected results will be not only of regional importance but also will serve for a better understanding of the global climate system in general and the interaction between climate and vegetation.


An Oligocene “volcanoe” flora from the NE Rhodopes – taxonomic inventory, palaeo-ecology and climate (Bozukov, Ivanov, Mosbrugger and Utescher)

Funded by the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum.

Ecosystem and climate evolution in the Neogene of Bulgaria (Ashraf, Bozukov, Djorgova, Hristova, Ivanov, Mosbrugger, Tsenov and Utescher)

Ecosystem and climate evolution in the Neogene of Bulgaria are reconstructed based on palynological records from continental and marginal marine basins in Bulgaria. Short-term changes of climate and vegetation observed in the cyclic sequences represent a special focus of the study.
Funded up to 2007: DFG AS 103/3-1 - Bul 113 / 139 / 0-1

Neogene biodiversity and vegetation analysis in Bulgaria (Ivanov)

Funded by National Science Fund (NSF) of Bulgaria; B-1525.


Establishment of migration routes in the Miocene - Pleistocene, though the study of potentical fossils of the Brasin Acre - Southwest Amazon Basin and correlation with South America (Adami-Rodrigues, Haag, Negri, Scomazzon, Cardoso and Koester)

Several expeditions have been carried out in 2007 to 2008, in Amazonian sites from Acre state, Brazil, to study the paleofauna, paleoflora and palynomorphs forms. Materials were collected in strata assigned to the Late Cretaceous and Tertiary, forming part of the inheritance given to the Solimões Formation. Given the breadth and wealth of the fossiliferous deposits recorded, and the lack of data from integration works in South America is important the interpretation of the establishment of migration routes and evolutionary processes and the paleoflora paleofauna, mainly for the Amazon region of South West and fossiliferous as the records from the northwest and south of South America. The samples are located in the collections of the Paleontological Federal University of Acre, UFAC, forest and central campus. The establishment of the Cenozoic fauna of the Western Amazonia presents migratory routes related to local vegetation due north and south of South America, being the subject of discussion among researchers who work with Mio-Pliocene fauna of the Amazon. The vegetation in this case helps in the reconstruction of paleoenvironments
in order to strengthen the correlations between the Cenozoic fauna of the Amazon (Solimões Formation) and the related South American, as the fossil of rodent Proberomys bordasi, from Rio Purus, Acre, which was related material of Entre Rios, Argentina, serving as the first sign of correlation with units of eastern Peru and southwestern Brazil, as shown by the following model of the continental Tertiary of South America, this second Latrubesse & Rancy (1998). The goals involve identification and studies on the paleoflora, their diversity and age, linking it to taphoflora described for the north of Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Venezuela and Argentina, seeking to establish the factors like paleoclimatic, paleoenvironmental and/or tectonic influence distribution in the region, understanding the development of adaptive and biogeographic patterns during the Miocene/ Pleistocene, which marked the development of the migratory routes and paleofauna and paleoflora. Only the studies together will allow significant advances in understanding the role of paleoflora
on the paleofauna in the context of Cenozoic South America.

Biocronoestratigrafy and palaeoecology based on fossil potential Cretaceous -
Neogene basin Acre, Valley Juruá, South Western Amazon (Adami-Rodrigues, Haag, Cardoso, Scomazzon and Koester)

The fossiliferous richness recorded for the Juruá Valley, Acre, composes important paleontological collections, representing mainly the paleofauna and paleoflora from Cenozoic of South America and since the most of Latin American taxa are known to the same period, is established the need for correlation studies between South American Basins. For this reason, taxonomic studies have been conducted on paleovertebrates, microinvertebrates and fossil plants in deposits of the northern region of Acre. This way, the interpretation of taphonomic processes that ensure its
preservation, the characterization of the flora, as well as evaluation of their diversity, their chronological value and its comparison with other taphoflora described for northern Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, seeking to established between paleoclimatic, paleoenvironmental, and\or tectonic factors, which influenced their development in this area. Thus, the identification and recognition of fossil associations contribute to the establishment of adaptative and biogeographic patterns during the Cretaceous\ Miocene and Pleistocene. The project also aims to contribute to
establishment of a doctorate course in the region as a strategy for developing scientific and technological research in natural science, at the regional level, focusing on conservation of natural resources. Additionally, the consolidation of this line of research represents an opportunity for national security research in the Amazon, since the area has extraordinary biological diversity, evolved from the diverse preterit fauna and flora.


Neogene Climate of Yunnan (Huang, Jacques, Tao, Utescher and Zhou)

The Neogene climate evolution is compiled in studying new sites and revisiting published sources. As quantitative methods we use CLAMP and CA. Past monsoon intensity and uplift are special focal points of our joint study.

Neogene plant diversity and climatic background in Lincang of Yunnan Province,
SW China (Xie, Pu, et al.) 

This project aims to investigate the anatomy as well as the morphology of Neogene plant fossils from Lincang, Yunnan Province, China. Also we’d like to know the climatic background at that time. Thus, we can acknowledge the natural linkage between fossil plant physiology and geohistorical environment.
January 2012 - December 2015 - funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Oligocene fossil plants and paleoenvironment of Gansu Province, NW China (Yan, Sun and Xie)

The project aims to synthetically study fossil plants and environmental change in Paleogene by use of angiosperm compression fossils from the Oligocene in Gansu Province, NW China. The research  makes use of fossil plants to study the influence of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau uplift on fossil plants in Paleogene and investigates biological information and environmental data about the greenhouse effect qualitatively and quantitatively. It analyzes the coexistence characteristics of fossil plants to discuss the flora composition of paleovegetations and the diversity of fossil plants, and investigates coupling processes between fossil plants and paleoenvironmental change.

Oligocene-Miocene fossil plants and paleoenvironment of the Qaidam Basin in Qinghai Province, NW China (Yan, Sun and Li)

The project studies on the fossil plants from the Oligocene-Miocene in the Qaidam Basin, Qinghai Province, NW China. It includes investigating cuticular micro-structure of angiosperm plant fossils, analyzing stomatal parameters and carbon isotope of fossils systemically, and comparing fossil plant with its nearest living relative species to obtain information of palaeo-CO2 concentration and environmental change which were recorded in fossil plants in geological time.

Palaeoclimatic implication of plant fossil cuticles from the Neogene in Tengchong and Longchuan of West Yunnan, China  (Sun et al.)

2008 - 2010, the National Nature Science Fundation of China.

Quantitative reconstruction of Neogene climate patterns in Northern China based on the plant fossil record (Liu, Utescher and Zhou)

The Miocene climate evolution in North China is discussed by means of comparisons in seven climate parameters quantitatively reconstructed by the Coexistence Approach on 34 carefully selected macro- and microfloras over North China. North China is an ideal region for study of the origin of East Asian monsoon system. Therefore the studies have a special focus on the evolution of precipitation patterns during the Neogene.

Shangwan Basin, Shandong Province, E China; Middle Miocene (Liang, Li and Sun)

Studies on some cuticles of plant fossils from the Neogene in Ninghai of East Zhejiang, China
Sun et al.)

2007 - 2009; the Foundation of the State Key Laboratory of Paleobiology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Yuanmou Basin, Yunnan Province, SW China; Mid-Late Pliocene (Liu)

Yushe Basin, Shanxi Province, N. China; Mid-Late Pliocene (Liu)


Climate signals obtained from continental proxies in the context of eustatic sea level change. A case study from the Cenozoic of Jutland (Dybkjaer, Larsson-Lindgren, Rasmussen, Utescher and Vajda)

Detailed climate and vegetation records reconstructed from microfloras are analysed in the context of a well established sequence-stratigraphical concept.


Detailed palaeoclimate evolution in the Cenozoic of Northern Germany
(Ashraf, Mosbrugger, Pross, Wilde and Utescher)

Quantitative palaeoclimate records are reconstructed from the palynological record of continental series adjacent to the North Sea facies realm. The results obtained testify correlations with marine signals derived from stable isotopes. Continental curves allow to quantify climate change at different scales - also orbital - with respect to various variables.
Funded up to 2010: DFG Mo 412/240-1

Finger prints of the Gulf Stream intensity in the Cenozoic - A view on continental climate and biodiversity on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean (Böhme, Hickler, Micheels, Mosbrugger, Portmann, Utescher; cooperation partners: Liu, Manchester and Spicer)

In the proposed project finger prints of the Northern Atlantic circulation on continental climate and its changing intensity during the Cenozoic is analysed comparing two transects in Western Eurasia and Northern America. Quantitative climate and plant diversity gradients derived from the palaeobotanical record are reconstructed for the Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, and early to middle Pliocene in order to identify longitudinal anomalies between both continental areas. Palaeo-precipitation and temperatures are calculated using the Coexistence Approach combined with a calibration procedure recently developed. Biodiversity gradients are reconstructed using bioclimatic affinity groups of arboreal taxa. In order to identify causalities related to the development of the Gulf Stream intensity in the Cenozoic, we perform palaeoclimate modelling sensitivity experiments with an earth system model of intermediate complexity. The comparison of model and proxy data improves the interpretation of the patterns obtained from the fossil record. The analysis of the Gulf Stream and its impact on continental climates in past hothouse phases can provide valuable insights in future system change.
Grant: Mi-926 / 8-1.

UCCC - Understanding Cenozoic Climate Cooling: The Role of the Hydrological Cycle, the Carbon Cycle, and Vegetation Changes (Bickert, Dupont, Francois, Junclaus, Lohmann, Micheels, Mosbrugger, Schefuß and Schultz)

DFG-Research Unit (FOR 1070); funded by the German Research Foundation.

Diversification and Climate Change in the Cenozoic (Klussmann-Kolb and Muellner)

Westlausitz, Sachsen; Late Miocene, Pontian (Walther)

Results concerning the topics: Taxonomy, Nearest Living Relaitves, Climate. Temperate conditions with MAT 10 to 14°C and MAP 900 to 1000 mm (see Walther and Eichler, in press).


Early Oligocene terrestrial climate of the Hungarian Palaeogene Basin and its surrounding area adopting fossil plant assemblages (Erdei, Hably, Roth-Nebelsick, Tamás and Utescher)

Well-dated and documented fossil leaf assemblages from the Hungarian Oligocene are compared to contemporaneous floras from the Tethys and Paratethys (localities from Italy, Serbia, Bulgaria, Austria) and from the “stable Europe” (e.g. localities from Germany). Using a morphometric approach we have the opportunity to refine quantitative climate reconstruction and indicate possible microclimatic or habitat variations. Using stomatal details we try to track habitat variations among sites.

Late Miocene biodiversity, palaeoclimate and palaeo-environment in the Pannonian Basin (Erdei, Hably, Mosbrugger and Utescher)

The project is focused on the reconstruction of ecosystem and plant diversity evolution and the quantitative estimation of palaeoclimate during the late Miocene of the Pannonian Basin, a time-span of stepwise, global cooling and the appearance of first glaciation events on the Northern Hemisphere. Based on the palaeobotanical record (both macro- and micro-remains) with adequate stratigraphic control it is possible for the first time to document spatial and temporal variation of palaeovegetation in the context of a changing climate, a main driver in shaping palaeo-environments. Vegetation and climate evolution will be documented in five time intervals covering the Tortonian and Messinian stages. In the frame of the project a novel PFT (plant functional type) classification system is developed).
Grants: DAAD and Senckenberg Research Institute.


Floristic and climatic changes on the basis of plant mega remains in northeast India during the Cenozoic (Mehrotra and Srivastava)

Northeast India has outcrops ranging from Palaeocene to Pleistocene. We have collected a large number of plant fossils in the form of woods, leaves, fruits and seeds. We are dealing with morpho-taxonomy, palaeoclimate, palaeophytogeography and evolution. Additionally, we are developing CA and CLAMP for low latitude floras like India for quantitative estimation of palaeoclimate.
Funding agency: Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, New Delhi.


Pleistocene vegetation and climate of Damavand, northern Iran (Bruch and Alimohammadian)

Funded by the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences.


Early Pleistocene landscapes and the colonization of Europe (Bruch and Bertini)

Pliocene-Pleistocene climatic trends on a latitudinal gradient from NW Germany to Central Italy (Bertini, Bruch, Martinetto and Utescher)

Plio- to Pleistocene floras of Italy and Germany are studied using quantitative techniques for climate and vegetation reconstruction. The project aims at the analysis of climate and vegetation evolution at the onset of the Pleistocene glaciation in studying change on a latitudinal gradient from 52°N to 44°N and implications for scenarios of future climate change.


Central Poland; Middle Miocene (Kohlman-Adamska and Ziembinska-Tworzydlo)

NE Poland, Paleogene and Neogene (Slodkowska)

Palynological research Neogene deposits of the western Poland (Slodkowska)

Poznań Formation (Middle Miocene to Pliocene) investigation (Slodkowska)


Neogene Climate Patterns and Development in Romania
(S. Iamandei, E. Iamandei and Bruch)

Based on the extensive book of Givulescu (1997) as a critical synthesis of all the paleobotanical studies of the Tertiary of North-western part of Romania and other partial unpublished papers of Stefârta (1997) and some of the authors, the scientific evaluation of the Romanian Neogene Flora allows a detailed climatic quantification in space and time and better understanding of the Neogene paleoclimate in Europe.


Biodiversity of Vitaceae in Northern Eurasia during the Neogene in relation to climate changes (Gromyko, Herzog, Micheels, Muellner, Popova, Uhl and Utescher)

Fossil plant records belonging to the family Vitaceae are widely found in Northern Eurasia. It has been proposed that Vitaceae was one of the dominant floras in this region during the Neogene (Nikitin, 2006). Therefore, the identification of species of Vitaceae existing during the Neogene in Northern Eurasia is a prerequisite for the complete reconstruction of the Neogene climate. We currently apply the coexistance approach to reconstruct palaeoclimate in Western Siberia based on fossil plant records (Mosbrugger and Utescher, 1997) in the framework of a DAAD research grant (Popova et al., in prep.). Palaeoclimatic conditions in this region are poorly understood. In this proposed project, we aim to perform analyses of biodiversity of extinct species of Vitaceae and include this data in Neogene climate reconstructions. We
compare these results with existing biodiversity data of this family under modern climate conditions. For the first time, the combination of morphology, anatomy and biomolecular data together with fossil data is analysed for three genera of Vitaceae and incorporated with modelled and existing climate data.
Funded by the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), Frankfurt M.

Cenozoic palaeoclimate and vegetation evolution in Western Siberia and the Far East (Popova and Utescher)

The diverse carpological record of Siberia and the Far East is studied. 7 time slicest are regarded covering the time-span from late Eocene to late Pliocene to reconstruct climate and vegetation change. Results are discussed in the context of the actual NECLIME data set.
Grants: DAAD; Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), Frankfurt M.

Ecology of Krugloye Lake, North-Western Kazakhstan; Early Miocene (Samsonov)

Paleogeography and biogeography of Paratethys Basins (Popov, Akhmetiev, Lopatin et al.)

The second part of this monograph about the Middle Miocene to Pliocene is currently in work.
Part 1 "Paleogeography and Biogeography of Paratethys basins" was published before by Moscow, Scientific World (200 p.), in 2009  by the same authors.
The Neogene climate evolution is one of the special subjects in both of these publications.

Quantification of Calabrian climate in the higher latitudes (southern Primory'e, Far East of Russia) - an integrative case study using multiple proxies (Blokhina, Bondarenko, Bruch and Utescher)

Grant: ROCEEH / The Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.


Cenozoic vegetation and climate evolution of Ukraine (Molchanov, Syabryaj and Utescher) 

The Neogene floral record is analysed in detail to study floral change in the context of a changing palaeoclimate. Global signals and regional patterns detected are discussed in the context of palaeogeographical changes in the Eastern Paratethys.

Neogene and Paleogene biodiversity, palaeogeography and climate evolution in the southern Ukraine part of Paratethys (Syrenko, Stefanska (Ivanova), Stefanskyi, Bondar)

The project is focused on the palaeogeographical and paleoclimatic reconstructions and studying the relationship of biodiversity in the southern Ukraine part of the Paratethys during the Late Eocene and Neogene with geological and climatic events.

United Kingdom

Shedding light on the “Dark Age” of the UK Miocene: palaeoenvironment and depositional history of the Brassington Formation, Derbyshire (Pound)

The Miocene is probably the least understood geological time period in the UK, which is partly due to the limited availability of outcrops. The Brassington Formation, Derbyshire, is a Miocene deposit which consists of gravels, sands and clays preserved in karstic hollows. Due to their accessibility, and the rarity of other Miocene sediments in the UK, the Brassington Formation is an important sedimentary succession for understanding the palaeogeography and palaeoenvironment of this geological epoch in the British Isles. The age and palaeoenvironment of the Brassington Formation have also been used to estimate rates of Pennine uplift, based on the amount of sediment subsidence and the assumption that the Brassington Formation was deposited close to Miocene sea level. This project will focus on the question of whether the Brassington Formation was deposited in a fluvial setting and then subsided, as proposed by Walsh et al. (1972), or if subsidence occurred before deposition was complete.
Grant: Geological Society of London